The Spam Diaries

News and musings about the fight against spam.
 by Edward Falk

Monday, June 02, 2008

E360 drops lawsuit against Feguson, Gunn, and Chien — again

This just in: alleged spammer E360, who has filed SLAPP lawsuits not once, not twice, but three times against various individuals it thinks are somehow connected to Spamhaus, or who simply called E360 a spammer, has voluntarily dropped their lawsuit yet again.

Quick history: David Linhardt, the owner of E360 first filed a lawsuit against Susan Gunn, Mark Ferguson, Kelly Chien, and other anti-spam activists in federal court. That suit ended when Linhardt didn't even show up in court (neither did the defendants, who had never been served.)

A month later, Linhardt re-filed the same lawsuit, but in state court this time. This forced the defendants to get lawyers and prepare for a lawsuit all over again. In September 2007, Linhardt once again dropped the lawsuit.

True to form, he filed yet a third lawsuit in January of this year, naming Susan Gunn, Mark Ferguson, and Kelly Chien. This lawsuit was interesting in that it coincided with E360's lawsuit against Comcast. Things became interesting, with suits, counter suits, and counter-counter-suits flying thick and furious. There are rumors of offers from Linhardt to settle out of court which were presumably rejected by the defendants.

In mid-April, Gunn filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. The court gave Linhardt until May 27 to file a response, which Linhardt did not do. Gunn then filed a motion to dismiss based on Linhardt's failure to respond to the first motion.

Finally, comes news that Linhardt has filed his own motion to dismiss. The filing also notes that he's managed to settle with Ferguson. Unfortunately, as with most out-of-court settlements, neither side is saying what the terms were. Knowing what I know of Ferguson, I'm betting that he's not the one who conceeded anything.

The interesting thing is that Linhardt filed to dismiss with prejudice, meaning he won't be allowed to file again.

Now I'm not a lawyer, but I'm puzzled as to why the plaintiff would file to dismiss with prejudice, thus shutting the door for good on his ability to file yet again. This is essentially a legally-binding pledge not to sue again. Is he hoping that by doing this, he'll convince the defendants not to file any counter-suits? Or perhaps this will make the court look more favorably at him in such a suit. Or perhaps this was a condition that was attached in some sort of settlement he made with Ferguson.

If not for the fact that he'd filed with prejudice, I would assume this was just another round of his previous tactic of repeated file-and-drop. He knows he can never actually win a SLAPP lawsuit against anti-spam activists, so his most damaging tactic was to file a suit, and then drop it before he can lose, thus allowing him to repeat the attack. But filing with prejudice? Either he really means to let it go, or it's a diversion of some sort — perhaps he's planning to file in Federal court again next time.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the 'tardt dropped his lawsuit the second time, my lawyer told me that case law in IL prevented him from filing it again. Apparently his arguement was that the first time didn't count, because he never served anyone.

I'm inclined to think that this is his lawyers' attempt to head off sanctions.


11:44 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ferguson is pretty stubborn; I don't see him making any concessions. He also had the goods on E360 (could prove they'd forged an opt-in from him). Based on that, I'm guessing that they both agreed to just walk away, or it was E360 that made some sort of concession. If it's the latter case, then my speculation is that E360 agreed to drop the lawsuit against all defendants, with prejudice.
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